Minium: He died 60 years ago, but A.H. Foreman's epitaph on his headstone is still true: "His deeds yet live."

November 16, 2018
By ODU Athletics
ODU Athletics

By Harry Minium

For 82 years, Foreman Field has been named after Alvan Herbert Foreman.

For most of my lifetime, it’s been known simply as Foreman Field. In 2009, thanks to a generous gift to Old Dominion University from Virginia Beach contractor Stephen Ballard, it became known as Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

Most people probably don’t have a clue as to who A.H. Foreman was or why the stadium was named for him. I grew up in Norfolk, went to school at ODU and was a journalist at The Virginian-Pilot for 39 years.

It wasn’t until I was told to do some research a few years ago about Foreman Field that I learned who he was.

A.H. Foreman in the 1930s.

This great man cared very much about education – particularly the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary – and tending to the needy. He cared little for personal fame.

He helped found the Norfolk Division, which eventually became Old Dominion University, and pulled strings to get $300,000 in federal funding to build the stadium.

Old Dominion hosts VMI at 2 p.m. Saturday in the last game at “Mr. Foreman’s field,” as Division officials called it.

Both sidelines built in 1936 will be demolished by the end of December. In their place will rise a new $67.5 million stadium with modern amenities, more comfortable seats and a much different look.

When the new stadium opens on Aug. 31, 2019, with a game against Norfolk State, it will be known simply as S.B. Ballard Stadium.

That’s OK with Foreman’s two living grandchildren, Herbert Foreman Hargroves, a Richmond businessman, and Peggy Bartlett, a retired Portsmouth principal.

Hargroves, Bartlett and their children will be recognized during Saturday’s game. As long as their grandfather is honored within the stadium, they said they’re happy.

“He was very dedicated to education for all kids and didn’t care about notoriety,” Bartlett said.

She added that “Mr. Ballard has been very generous to ODU.”

S.B. Ballard Stadium at Foreman Field 

Hargroves said that Foreman was the only grandparent he knew. “We lived in the Churchland area and he would come over for dinner quite often,” he said. “He was a typical grandparent of that era.

“He didn’t get on the floor and play with us. But he was a very busy man who tried to share as much time as he could with us. I’m glad I knew him.”

Foreman served on the Norfolk and Norfolk County (now Chesapeake) school boards and was for 29 years a member of the William & Mary Board of Visitors.

He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1907 while serving as superintendent of the Norfolk County schools.

As chairman of the Norfolk School Board, he learned the city was going to build a new school in Larchmont. He and a group of educators persuaded William & Mary President Julian Chandler to come to Norfolk and consider starting an extension program for freshmen and sophomores at the old Larchmont school.

Chandler toured the building and agreed to start offering classes there. He then pointed to an area filled with corn and other vegetables. “See all of that property?” he told Foreman. “Get an option on that.”

He did, and it became the site of Foreman Field, a gym and classrooms for the Norfolk Division.

Foreman was one of a group of businessmen who led the push for a stadium. Eventually it would become a four-year school, they hoped. And what school doesn’t need a football stadium?